In an interview last night with CNN host Piers Morgan, Herman Cain initially responded to questions about abortion by repeating that he is against abortion, including in cases of rape and incest (although he has said families should decide when the mother’s life is at stake):
MORGAN: Abortion. What’s your view of abortion?
CAIN: I believe that life begins at conception. And abortion under no circumstances. And here’s why –MORGAN: No circumstances?
CAIN: No circumstances.
MORGAN: Because many of your fellow candidates — some of them qualify that.
CAIN: They qualify but –
MORGAN: Rape and incest.
CAIN: Rape and incest.
But then Cain goes on to talk about how “it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision,” although it’s unclear if he’s talking about abortion generally or about abortions when the pregnancy was caused by rape:
MORGAN: Are you honestly saying — again, it’s a tricky question, I know.
CAIN: Ask the tricky question.
MORGAN: But you’ve had children, grandchildren. If one of your female children, grand children was raped, you would honestly want her to bring up that baby as her own?
CAIN: You’re mixing two things here, Piers?
CAIN: You’re mixing –
MORGAN: That’s what it comes down to.
CAIN: No, it comes down to it’s not the government’s role or anybody else’s role to make that decision. Secondly, if you look at the statistical incidents, you’re not talking about that big a number. So what I’m saying is it ultimately gets down to a choice that that family or that mother has to make.Not me as president, not some politician, not a bureaucrat. It gets down to that family. And whatever they decide, they decide. I shouldn’t have to tell them what decision to make for such a sensitive issue.
I’ve reached out to his campaign to see if they can clarify what he meant. But it’s worth mentioning that, as I noted the other day, Cain chose not to run for Senate in 1998 partially because he was unsure his views on abortion would be compatible with the most ardent pro-life voters. ”[W]ith the pro-life and pro-abortion debate, the most vocal people are on the ends. I am pro-life with exceptions, and people want you to be all or nothing,” Cain told Nation’s Restaurant News, adding that he was “not a social-issue crusader” but a “free-enterprise crusader.” However, whatever his concerns were in 1998, he did run as pro-life (no exceptions in cases of rape and incest — the only exception he ran on was for the mother’s life) in the 2004 Georgia senate race, and won an endorsement from Georgia Right to Life that election cycle.
UPDATE: A reader sends along this clip of Cain on John Stossel’s show, where Cain again seems to be stressing both that it’s up to a woman (at least in certain cases) whether she has an abortion, and the government should stay out, but also that abortion should be illegal: